Ramsar Secretary General's address at the signing of the Evian memorandum of cooperation

02/02/1998

Address of Mr. Delmar Blasco, Secretary General of the
Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971)

 Paris, France, 27 January 1998

Madame Minister,
Monsieur the Representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Monsieur the Representative of the French Global Environment Facility,
Madame President et Monsieur the Director of the Conservatoire du Littoral,
Monsieur the Mayor of the city of Evian-les-Bains,
Monsieur the President/Director General of the Group Danone,
Monsieur the Director General of the Society of Evian Mineral Waters,
Mesdames et Messieurs,

It’s both an honour and a great pleasure to be here today on behalf of the Convention on Wetlands, the international treaty signed in 1971 at Ramsar in Iran, and, as a result, often known as the Ramsar Convention.

A great pleasure because the ceremony which is taking place today at the Ministry of Land-use Planning and Environment represents an important step forward in the process of adapting the Convention to the challenges set by a rapidly changing world. It is not surprising that this breakthrough takes place in France, a country known for its innovative ability and for being at the forefront of decisive moments in modern history.

The Agreement that we are going to sign gives form to two important elements of the new approach being adopted by the Convention. On one hand the Agreement includes, for the first time to my knowledge, the private sector in a partnership bringing together a Contracting Party - France, through a number of governmental bodies - local authorities (the town of Evian), non-governmental organizations, and an international treaty - our Convention. The Danone Group, and its associate the Evian Mineral Water Company, deserve our admiration for their sincere involvement in this new type of partnership and in environmentally friendly production methods. I can assure you, Mr President [of the Danone Group], that the Convention Bureau will attach the highest importance to the success of this partnership, so that the Danone Group can be proud of this innovative initiative and so that it may serve as an example.

The second important aspect being made tangible today concerns a crucial aspect of the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands, to which the Convention is paying more and more attention, and that’s the protection of water as a resource and of water quality. Those who don’t know the Convention well may be surprised to learn that, until now, we have concentrated our attention on the preservation of the biological diversity of wetlands, without concerning ourselves sufficiently with the vital ingredient for their existence - water, and the maintenance of its quantity and quality. The action programme that we’re adopting today shows clearly that it’s in this direction that we are heading. What’s more, I believe that this orientation is essential for the Ramsar Convention to remain relevant for the Contracting Parties and for human society the world over.

It is foreseen that in the framework of this programme - and this is another aspect of which I’m particularly proud - that the Ramsar Convention be represented in the prestigious town of Evian by the establishment of an information and training centre, on the site known as "Pré Curieux". I am extremely grateful to the Mayor and Town Council of Evian for their agreement to use significant resources for the implementation of this part of the project. I am sure that this initiative will contribute towards making the town of Evian better known throughout the world, and that, in the long term, it will be shown to have been a good use of public money.

I would also like to thank the French Global Environment Facility which decided to add its own contribution to that of the Group Danone and to become a partner in this innovative project.

My gratitude goes especially to the Conservatoire du Littoral which has been the spearhead of this partnership from its first conception. We are here today ready to sign the Agreement because we have not been able to resist the infectious enthusiasm of Francois Letourneux, the Director of the Conservatoire, and thanks to the patient and effective work of Christophe Lefebvre who, during almost two years, has been the link between the different partners, preparing draft after draft for this programme, until we were all satisfied and ready to add our name at the bottom of this Agreement. A big thank you to you both.

Finally, Madam Minister, and distinguished Representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it is more than ever justified to underline the constant support of your Government in the implementation of the Convention in France and all over the world and to the process of development of this action programme and Agreement. My sincere thanks, once again, to you and your colleagues, for welcoming us here today.

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2,181 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,545,658

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